Test of Heart

Tin Man Wants a Heart

“Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking…”

Test of Heart

After a visit to the post office, the Rebels find themselves in a Test of Heart that has been patiently waiting for this precise moment. The Test of Heart is simple in nature and filling with love. It is a gesture of good will and an example of humanity. It is the chance to send a ripple effect of soul philanthropy through the cosmos, starting with something as comparably small as a butterfly flapping it’s wings… The Living Room Screenshot First, let me introduce you to “The Living Room” which is a local organization serving all of Sonoma County that functions purely off grants and community donations. Monday through Friday, they provide the following for homeless or near homeless woman and children:

  • A warm and safe atmosphere to be during the day when other shelters are closed.
  • A nutritious breakfast and hot lunch.
  • A place for children to play and learn.
  • A place where the newly homeless, and women on the verge of becoming homeless, can receive guidance and referrals to other community agencies.
  • Information tailored to meet individual needs including job search skills, mother and child care education, and health care knowledge.
  • Essential hygiene items such as food and clothing for women and children. (Click on our Urgent Program Needs page to learn more about how you help.)

Where us Rebels come in is quite easy… Starting September 4th (Wednesday) and going until September 11th (Wednesday) I want everyone to bring in at least one of the following items:

For women:

  • Peanut Butter
  • Fruit Jelly & Jam
  • Razors
  • Deodorant
  • Underwear (new)
  • Socks
  • Sanitary Pads

For children:

  • Diapers –  sizes 4, 5 and 6
  • Baby Wipes
  • Underwear (new)
  • Socks


  • Clean and gently used (brand new is also okay) children and women’s clothes

*Side note* All clothing goes through Heavenly Treasures Thrift Store and the women and children being helped by the Living Room are given vouchers to go there. If you’d like to make a direct donation or check it out and get your thrift on click on the link for directions! *Side note*

There will be a silver “Rebel” bin near the group room at the gym (Anytime Fitness – 2885 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa, CA 95407) that will be available the entire week (the 4th until the 10th) to drop off goods any time you’d like! You are MORE than welcome to drop stuff off and add to the assortment of necessities even if you aren’t a member of the Rebellion or even signed up at the gym! Simply drop by during staffed hours (Monday-Friday 10am until 7pm, Friday 10am until 4pm, Saturday 10am until 2pm, and off on Sundays) or give the items you’d like to donate to a Rebel to bring in for you!

On Tuesday (September 10th) and Wednesday (September 11th) Rebels will receive their “Test of Heart” charm. It will run on the honor system, and I will ask for a show of hands as to who brought in something to give to those not as fortunate in our community. Every raised hand gets a red charm to match the “Test of Courage.” By the end of the week, I will be taking a photo and presenting everything we were able to gather together as a Rebellion to showcase the true power of when people bond together for a greater good. Remember…

It’s not about how much you give, but giving as much as you can.

You've always had the power

Let’s continue to change the world, Rebels!

– Rebel8

Chapter 1: The Forgotten Sun Remembered

Chapter 1 - The Forgotten Sun Remembered

Chapter 1: The Forgotten Sun Remembered  

                She awoke to the sharp fleeting jabs of sunlight as they snuck through the cracks in the curtains and directly into her eyes like they were the only destination they had ever known. A wince on the outside and a long exasperated moan on the inside overcame Jennesis simultaneously as she flung the covers off her body in a desperate promise to herself that “she’s getting up this time and she means it.” Unwilling in body and a procrastination of the mind (mixed with a little OCD) forced Jennesis to go over the mental checklist she makes every morning while Sonny and Cher continue to bleat in the background;

1)      Change ring tone on alarm
2)      Get up
3)      Eat breakfast
4)      Leave the house for work at least 5 minutes earlier than the last 3 months
5)      Forgive yourself for missing #2
6)      Then forgive yourself for missing #3
7)      Lunch break: Eat breakfast for reals
8)      Try not to punch “Red” Ryerson in the face
9)      Make it home with as little interaction with people, RR especially
10)   Don’t stay up too late watching TV
11)   Promise yourself to really do steps #2 and #3 tomorrow

             By the time she makes it to the car ride to the refinery is where Jennesis puts it all together and realizes where she is. Showers, clothes, and the “10 minutes late” hustle out the door have happened without so much as a hiccup for so long that they’ve all blurred together like the photo negatives of the most predictable movie you’ve ever seen. Even the sunlight managed to turn everything into a grayscale backdrop fit for a Tim Burton wet dream. The irony was lost on Jennesis, as was with most Rebels, on the natural shine from Oz’s closest star being the very cause for washing all color from the dreary, granite landscape that lacked any liveliness to begin with. What always brought her back was the music. With her hands gripped tight on the wheel, her hair feeling like “it will do,” and the ambition of a soul yearning to be alone so bad that she’s willing to interject herself amongst people to earn that introversion it’s always the song on the radio that brings her to an alternate reality; a place where she can feel.

                Some songs invoked sadness; an understanding she needed yet never knew. Some brought with them an essence of hope that made her fantasize about a new job, tropical vacation, and a comfort that had a perfectly etched puzzle piece in her heart yet carried no occupant. Some songs even brought about a fire that unveiled the cosmos as her landscape for living and she could move mountains with the stroke of a paintbrush in her mind. The magic however was that every song made the aroma of her morning coffee weave its way through her nostrils with the inconspicuousness of a marching band, the flavor attack her taste buds with the intensity of a winged monkey, and the warmth emitted from her purple go-cup (her favorite color) feel like a Warrior’s heart radiating in her hands.

                Leaving the car always carried a moment of hesitancy. Jennesis could never figure out why she would walk away from the one place in her day where she actually felt more than just existed, yet she never found herself questioning this fact long enough to become a detective. “Acceptance is the friend of the patient” she heard constantly as a formerly-defiant little girl whenever her mom was reprimanding her. Out of all of her Mom’s quirky sayings Jennesis heard growing up, it was that one that rang in her head the most. Even harsher in this moment was the glare from the refinery windows piercing through her squinted eyelids as she locked her car with a pretentious “BEEPBEEP!” reminding her that her car wasn’t worth rifling through in the first place. It was the burst of these obnoxious light rays that had the power to suck her right back into the depressing scenario Jennesis so desperately wanted to escape…

                Making it past the glare only meant she had arrived at her point of suffocation destination. Trade in one miserable moment for another. “Acceptance is the frie…”

“I know Mom. Trust me, I know.”

                 Maybe she missed it? There had to have been a continuation of the words of wisdom that went beyond simply being patient. You’re never done growing after all, and with a Mom taken from her too soon Jennesis felt lost. Like she had never quite read ahead to the next chapter and was simply piecing together her life like a piece of “Munchkea” furniture without the instructions. Sure, she made something resembling a life… but why were there so many leftover pieces that didn’t quite fit right? What was the compliment to patience?

“Who’s the friend of the miserable, Mom? I need that friend…” she pleaded silently as she begrudgingly greeted the new receptionist. Guess she could cross out achieving “#10” off her to-do list.

                Just what would make a dingy-by-default day even dingier… a new perfect bodied Rock Republica ready and willing to shame her drab existence every single time she stepped foot through those glass doors. Behind her sun-radiant smile and eyes wrapped in seductive innocence she’s sure she’s a good person, but the red from ANY Rock Republic automatically gave her a fit of imploded anger that was obvious to no one through years of practice that manifested itself only when no one could see it. Hating every new person she comes across was old hat by now made especially easier if the object of that hate donned the red of the rock.

                Before she could make it to the elevator, Jennesis felt a shadow lurk behind her. The light bouncing on the wall in front of her took a different shade before blanketing out completely. Wheeling around abruptly she found herself peering out through the very glass doors she had so painstakingly walked through moments prior. It was what she saw that made her stomach lurch with the combination of fearing what was to come and thankful she had even made it THROUGH the glass gateway to her own personal gauntlet in the first place. As Jennesis surveyed the terrifying phenomenon, she glanced left and right at her co-workers looking like they had been caught in an awkward still-shot photograph. It only took a second to realize she was far from the only one confused.

                As a sudden darkness loomed the realization of a sudden life-changing event hit Jennesis like 2 tons of bricks. She heard the shattering of her purple go-cup before she had even realized she dropped it. With her eyes wide open, chest tense with fear, and fists clenched tightly Jennesis braced herself for the something wicked this way coming. With a darkness taking over the likes of which the State of Rebellion had never seen, not a single Rebel could have possibly been ready for the blackout to come…

– Rebel8

Coming soon

Chapter 2: Misery’s Best Friend

Register for the next challenge:

Minnesota Memoirs


“What inspires you?”

As I sit here with the notepad open on my iPod getting ready to spill my thoughts on my flight headed back to California, I realize I have no idea how to wrangle them all in a way that makes sense. As Ellie Goulding’s “Halycon” album plays in my ear, I’m reaching for the proper verbiage that can accurately express the impact I not only had on the great state of Minnesota, but more so the impact it had on me.

I went to Minnesota with many purposes and several goals at the forefront of my circus brain. I know there was a lot expected of me, yet none even dare hold a candle to the expectations I have of myself.

Before I continue further I feel it extremely important to express to you, the reader who I humbly appreciate taking time out of your life to care about what I have to say, in on something that most people may not know… As I boarded that plane in San Francisco last Friday, I had a certain feeling I tend to hide away from the world. An emotion I have often yet try not to show too often. Every day I feel this at some point or another in varying degrees for various reasons, but this day was the most intense I’d felt this in a long, long time…

I was absolutely terrified. Scared out of my mind. Beyond any words that I could possibly pull out of my scrabble bag of eccentricity to try to guide your brain into understanding exactly how I felt as they called for boarding group 4 to step onto that 10:30am flight.

Understand that to me, I am but a former fat kid from little ol’ Windsor California who has nothing but a big dream of changing the world and empty pockets that match my acceptance for failure. I am a broken man who, in the grand scheme of things, has figured out very little. In my 26 years on Earth I have come to understand that the more I broaden my horizon the bigger my hard drive for “life data” becomes. Essentially, the more I think I know, the less I truly do.

In every speaking engagement I have ever done and will ever do, I am careful to remind everyone that I am merely an ambassador. A representative for the many, not an isolated individual furthering myself from the pack. The things I have accomplished are small potatoes compared to some stories, but much like I accept everyone’s mountain to climb as their own, I hope everyone does the same for me.

With that said, I am nowhere NEAR the top of my climb, but you better goddamn believe I’m going to continue to climb with the strength of a silverback gorilla and the terror of an animal just trying to survive.


What I HAVE figured out is this; it’s COMPLETELY ok not to be ok. I have found that in transparency there is truth. In this lies remnants of what I feel is lost in this world… A tribal bond. I want nothing more than to climb my mountain with as many rebel souls that are willing. I’ve found that in putting my palms out and showing my scars, it gives permission for others to do the same.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s excruciating every single time I share all of me with everyone. There has not been one instance in which I have stood in front of a group of people and bared my soul, shared my experience with bulimia, depression, self mutilation, and bullying where I haven’t reverted to that scared boy who still lives inside my heart. I imagine my heart as Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon’s closet beneath the stairs, and that little boy is Harry Potter; scarred yet powerful.

Why do it then? My give everything I’ve got to strangers I’ve never met? Why go through hellfire day in and day out as people ask me about my past and wonder about my future? What is the reasoning behind reliving the pain this lifetime has shared with me?


Because I am FAR from the only one. With every opportunity I have to share my journey, I get a chance to peep into the souls of people just like me… damaged and just trying to make it. So what makes me different? What makes me special? I’ll tell you… I am relentlessly unapologetic to a fault for who I am and what I believe in and I just so happen to be really fucking loud about it.

Most people know that one of the most endearing and near-to-my-heart monikers I’ve ever had the honor of being bestowed with has been being referred to as a “Nerd Superhero.” It means everything to me because that means I’m the guy who *I* looked up to when I felt hopeless, and still do even though I’m overflowing with hope nowadays.

The guy who stands for good. The guy who has built himself into a machine beyond his wildest dreams who rather than use his newfound power for revenge and self-absorption instead fights for the ones who don’t know how fix themselves but want to more than anything.  These “superpowers” have given a voice to the voiceless. An AHHHOOOOO to those who only know a hanging head and settling-for-sad comfort zones.

Now lets get to what had me so terrified in the first place… In the 5 days I was in cold ass Minnesota, I was tasked with the following:


1) kick off a community challenge of 168 participants in Litchfield followed by a boot camp with the goal of not only getting everyone PUMPED on this 3 month health and wellness endeavor, but getting through to those who don’t really feel they belonged there. Igniting the heart and souls of those who feel alone and not only reminding them how important it is to take their mind and body back, but more importantly showing them they are not alone. They don’t have to feel isolated anymore. There IS a spot in this world for them. The fitness rebellion.


Mission accomplished.


2) speaking at a meat processing plant in St. James to blue collar employees on their lunch break with the same goal in mind as Litchfield, but on a more personal scale. I sat with these amazing people on one of their most cherished hours of the day and watched their defiance turn to a planted seed before my very eyes. They had NO idea I was coming thus had no idea who I was. All they knew was here was some long haired Californian who was about to talk about fitness. Only that’s not what I talked about… I talked about pain.
I reminded everyone they HAVE A CHOICE. You are met with crossroads every single day of your life… Which road do you take? The smoothest that leads nowhere or the rough one with the ultimate destination: self worth. That was the seed I planted. I watched it grow and blossom in a mere 60 minutes time. They came in feeling like “just get this over with kid” (I know because they told me) and left by signing up for a tour of the local gym, shaking my hand, and asking how they can be a part of the rebellion.

Mission accomplished.


3) Launching a rebel program in New Ulm that is run exactly as described above making it exactly like our down home Santa Rosa rebels. Drew and Lori are the rebel leaders tasked with hoisting their own shovels high with a rebel yell, spreading the rebellion message in a way where everyone understands they are a part of something breathtakingly huge. With their spray painted banners and infinite compassion, they led the charge right there with me. I spoke for 45 minutes to the pack of 21 daring individuals before leading a 40 minute boot camp with these awe-inspiring rebel leaders and I can tell you… Look out for these two. It is impossible for them to fail because they care just as much as I do. They have the same heart and compassion, and absorbed every bit of what I HAVE figured out coupled with a program I KNOW works because I have meticulously designed it for years. After the boot camp, they had 7 new sign ups. My first challenge ended with 5.

Mission accomplished.


4) I was asked to be a guest speaker at an alternative learning school in front of 2 groups of about 100 young adults. I spoke once at 10am and again at 1pm. These kids truly know the exact pain I’ve been through. Most have stories and experiences I choose not to share for the sake of privacy for these amazing young adults. As I calmed the butterflies I always get before I speak, I pushed the podium they gave me to the side because that was the antithesis of why I was there. I stood in front of these youth (as a youth myself) who know nothing but rejection and defiance, and I opened up my chest cavity and exposed EVERYTHING. I told them every graphic detail of my journey (mixed with my own brand of humor that they thankfully found funny) and pleaded that if they walked away with ANYTHING from what I had to say then I wished it to be this; that every single one of us knows true pain, they are not alone, and it’s never too late to love yourself. I begged them to understand that their body was the plane and their brain was the pilot, and THEY were in control… We always have a choice. I concluded with a squat exercise I do
with rebels back in my neck of the woods to show them that if they can physically dig deeper then why couldn’t they mentally and emotionally? Afterwards I was swarmed by these teens who are normally used to rejection as we all bonded together, took pictures, exchanged Facebook pages, and simply laughed. Together. As one unified group. I heard “you’re the BEST speaker we’ve ever had! You changed my life man… I never knew I was so strong…” enough to make me shed tears that night quietly as I recollected on how much they will NEVER know how much that meant to me (I hope some of you are reading this). The higher ups in charge of the school said they have never seen any of this group listen so intently. They’d never seen these young adults participate with one another so happily before. They’ve been known to eat guest speakers alive, but not me… I said “well, it’s because I represent real life and give them permission to hurt and make it acceptable to hug it out with someone rather than take it out on someone. They accepted every bit of me because I accepted every bit of them.” Afterwards I was interviewed by the local paper who said they’d never seen someone do what I did in that room before…


Mission accomplished.


5) That night In St. James, the very town where that meat processing plant was that I spoke at the day prior, I was all set to kick off ANOTHER rebel boot camp pilot program with the amazing Beth Henderson and Jill Augustin (another original rat pack member). Marv and Jill Augustin are the owners of the two clubs that we were launching these rebellions at, and were not only vital to me being there in the first place but showed me more hospitality than any “thank you” gift or string of heartfelt words could ever relay. They were also the ones who introduced me to Beth, a fireball of energy who just like Drew and Lori has the heart of a lion and the soul of a rebel. A true rebel leader through and through, she is most certainly another amazing person you are sure to hear more about. With her fantastic partner-in-crime Kristin, they had their shovel all ready to be raised and praised in front of the group of 22 “ruffians” who showed up, ready to get down with the get down. My warm-up was an interview with a local reporter by the name of Tyson as to why I was there. Their warm-up was me speaking to them about the revolution they were leading and didn’t even know while heavily being sprinkled with the essence of all the things I wrote about above. After 45 minutes, we got into some rebel planks and exploded from there. My GOD these people rocked it! I saw the same things I’d seen in Litchfield, at the processing plant, at Riverbend School, and New Ulm… The fierce tenacity of human spirit grasping at this newfound empowerment with everything they had. Afterwards, everyone gathered around and shared stories of how hard-yet-amazing what they just took part in truly was as I grabbed Jill by the shoulders and quietly said “you see what’s happening?” Her response was deafening in its simplicity…



Mission Accomplished.



Now that I have chronicled my Minnesota memoirs in a way that I think BARELY does any of this justice, this is what I want you to take away from the novel you just read;

I was terrified, but I put myself out there with everything I had. I took my passion and dream for a world I truly believe can be better and stared failure in the face as my butterflies turned to fireworks. I had something I wanted to do, and I sprinted towards it with everything I had damning the possibility of letting people down because if I let THAT fear control me then I would have accomplished NONE of the miracles of humanity I witnessed in sub zero temperatures. We all have our own visions and hopes of things we want to do with our lives, and if I had let that gut-wrenching, cold sweat inducing voice in my head convince me I was surely going to fall short, I never would have stepped foot on that plane.

This is where it comes full circle and goes back to those crossroads and
Choices I talked about earlier…

We all have our own “plane” to step foot on. If you don’t take that first step, you’ll never know how amazing you really are.



– Rebel8

Donate a turkey, get a boot camp!

Some families don’t have as much to be thankful for as others… Let’s change that.

Rebel against families going hungry!

It’s that time again Rebels! Time to band together and flex our heart muscle! How so? Well, I’ve figured out a way where EVERYONE can benefit!

What: An hour and 15 minute boot camp run by yours truly and Erik Sherwood!

When: This Saturday at 12:45pm!

Location: Anytime Fitness on the corner of Santa Rosa Ave. & Kiwana Springs

Cost: A turkey or/and a bag of “Thanksgiving essentials” (which would be whatever you would want as far as Thanksgiving food stuffs go).

Yup, it’s bein’ led by THESE Stallions 😉

Even if you can’t do the boot camp, you can still donate! Stop on by anytime that day starting at 10am and there will be receptacles and smiling faces waiting to help! 

All donations will be brought to Redwood Empire Food Bank.

I want to end you with the open letter I wrote regarding “What is a Rebel.” I want you to read it with fresh eyes… not applying it to a boot camp but helping those in need. This is our opportunity to help make a families holiday season a little more enjoyable… Let’s show everyone what the human spirit is capable of! 

Hulk Helping Hearts - Turkey

The Rebellion is a process starting from within, not from without. The goal is self improvement, starting with your strongest muscles; Your heart and your soul. The Rebellion is here to overcome fears that manifest physically and translate into the thought “this is too hard for me.” Once those fears are battled (not conquered… life will forever be one big “rebel workout”), it’s because you’ve got the confidence to do so. You get the results people don’t get by doing the work people don’t do. Getting the confidence to rebel rage through your fears and insecurities with a balled up fist and a primal scream is the hardest work there is. As Rebels, we do it. We fight. We don’t accept merely “surviving.” It may not always look pretty, and it will definitely not always be comfortable, but it will be a journey that leaves you standing taller. Prouder. Full of the realization that you are the king or Queen of your own castle.  As Rebels, we refuse to take to heart  “I can’t” or “I’ll always be this person…” because settling for anything less than supreme respect from yourself is unacceptable. As Rebels, we live by “The Rebellion Rule.” Treat others BETTER than you wish to be treated. As Rebels, we open our arms to vulnerabilities and insecurities because we know the struggle. As Rebels, we will NEVER turn away those asking for help, even when they don’t ask for it. As Rebels, we stand atop a mountain of downtrodden emotions and lack of self worth with our hands stretched towards the sunlight screaming “Join us! The view from the top is beautiful!” As Rebels, we are worth it.

We are The Rebellion.


– Rebel8